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Mike Shalin's Working Press: Is anyone worked up about Pats?

By MIKE SHALIN
April 19. 2018 11:47PM

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski does a celebratory dance in the end zone after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles on Feb.4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (Elizabeth Flores/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)



QUESTION: Is anyone worried about what’s going on down in Foxborough?

With the Red Sox off to a historic start and with the Celtics and Bruins involved in their playoffs, uncertainty is the word of the month at Gillette Stadium.

Yes, Tom Brady will probably play this season. And Rob Gronkowski will probably play this season. But as the draft approaches, and the Patriots positioning themselves to get one of the many available quarterbacks, why all this talk about Brady and Gronk, the two most important players on the roster?

Both appear to want new contracts.

OK, give them new contracts.

“Tom Brady is going to play in 2018,” Ian Rapoport said on NFL Network. “He said it. Everyone close to him has said it. Everyone I’ve spoken to has said it. The Patriots are going forward with the very strict and stern belief that he will be playing for 2018.”

OK, makes sense.

But Gronk has been wildly silent since moments after the Super Bowl loss, when he said he didn’t know what his future held.

Life without either would be disastrous. Life without Brady would either thrust a draft choice into a starting role or the team would have to go get a veteran.

Brady will play. Gronk will play.

I think.

And a QB?

This from 98.5 The Sports Hub producer Jimmy Stewart on Twitter:

“It’s funny how much information is out there on the Patriots selecting a QB in the draft:

“I think they’re taking Lamar Jackson.”

“A friend texted me that the Pats are trading up to No. 6 to get Baker Mayfield.”

“Colin Cowherd thinks Sam Darnold is the guy.”

“Zo is talking up Josh Rosen.

Danny Amendola is now a Miami Dolphin and there’s something going on there as well regarding behind the scenes at Gillette.

Get this quote: ’I wanted to go play for a good coach and a good team in a good city.”

Seriously?

Meanwhile, the guys are back together, ready to work, the Patriots’ Matthew Slater saying this week, “I think everyone in here has come in with a sense of urgency, a sense of humility, understanding that we all have to work. We’re all starting from ground zero. These new guys have been great. Their buy-in has been great. They’re veteran players; they understand that this league is a unique place. You have to compete wherever you go and they get that and they’ve done that and the buy-in has been great thus far.”

Matt Light, Richard Seymour and Mike Vrabel are the three finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame, with fans having until May 14 to cast their vote.

Historic times

The numbers the Red Sox took into Thursday night’s game in Anaheim are downright scary. Let’s take them right from the Sox’ game notes for Game 18.

…At 15-2, the Red Sox are off to the best start through 17 games in the franchise’s 118-year history... Only two other Sox teams won more than 12 of their first 17 games (14-3 in both 1904 and 1946). Only five other AL clubs have started 15-2 or better since the league was formed in 1901: MIL in 1987, DET in 1984, OAK in 1981, CLE in 1966, and DET in 1911. The last teams to start 15-2 or better were SF in 2003 (15-2) and MIL in 1987 (16-1)...The ’87 Brewers are the last team to start 16-2 or better (17-1).

…The Red Sox lead MLB in runs scored per game (6.35)...In their last 10 games, they have scored 84 runs (8.4 per game) with a .320/.389/.570 batting line (114-for-356, 31 2B, 2 3B, 18 HR). The Sox have scored 108 runs, their most through the first 17 games of a season since 2003 (112). The Sox have scored 4-plus runs in a single inning 10 times, including in nine of the club’s last 10 games...No other team has scored 4-plus runs in as many innings this season.

…The Red Sox lead the majors in AVG (.287), OBP (.358), SLG (.485), OPS (.844), doubles (50), and XBH (75) ...They also own MLB’s lowest strikeout percentage (16.6 percent; 115 SO in 693 PA). The Sox’ 50 doubles are their most through 17 games since at least 1908...The last team to reach 50-plus doubles within their first 17 games was SD in 1996 (also 50). The Sox have recorded 10-plus hits in each of their last 5 games...Since 6/20/17, they are 43-1 (.977) in such games.

…Red Sox starters are 11-1 with a 1.91 ERA (20 ER/94.0 IP) ... According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is the club’s third-lowest starter ERA through 17 games since earned runs became an official stat in the AL in 1913 (1.59 in 1917, 1.77 in 1919). Sox starters lead the majors in ERA and opponent OPS (.571)...They also lead the AL in SO/BB ratio (4.39) and HR/9.0 IP (0.57) and rank second in WHIP (1.05). BOS starters have allowed one or no runs in 13 of the club’s 17 games...In five of those, they allowed 3 hits or fewer.

…Red Sox relief pitchers have allowed no runs in their last 11 IP, and one run in their last 17.0 IP ...BOS relievers gave up six ER on Opening Day, but since then they have a 3.00 ERA and a .198 opponent AVG (63.0 IP, 44 H, 21 ER). Opponents are two for their last 37 (.054) against Sox relievers, including 0 for their last 17. The Sox’ bullpen owns the majors’ lowest opponent OPS (.608) and lowest HR/9.0 IP ratio (0.42; 3 HR).

Told you. The numbers are staggering.

Showing respect

Mookie Betts, one of the best players in baseball, was asked about Mike Trout, probably THE best player in baseball, this week. And Trout talked about Betts.

“He’s a great player and I think everybody loves watching him play,” Betts told the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. “He plays the game the right way and he plays it in an exciting way.

“I think we’re both team-oriented in that we do the things we do to put our teams in position to win. I think any player would want to achieve what he’s achieved and be recognized as one of the best to play our game.”

Trout, talking to MassLive’s Chris Smith, said, “He makes hard contact a lot and he’s very consistent. I follow him throughout the year. I root for him. And obviously you see what he can do (Tuesday) night.” He added “Mookie’s up there with the best.”

No respect at all

Terry Rozier’s "Drew Bledsoe" slipup after the opening game of the playoff series has led to a mini war of words. But all the talk in the world can’t bury the lead: the Celtics’ Rozier has handed the Bucks’ Bledsoe his lunch in the first two games of the series that resumes tonight in Milwaukee.

Rozier, whose continued development has been one of the great stories around this team, has had 11 assists and ZERO turnovers in 78-plus minutes, but is also 15-for-32 from the floor, 7-for-14 from 3-point range and has scored 23 points in both games.

Bledsoe, traded for Boston’s Greg Monroe earlier this season (Monroe was then released by Phoenix before signing with the Celtics), is 9-for-25/2-for-6 and has 21 points, eight assists, six turnovers and eight fouls in the two games.

Rozier called Bledsoe “Drew” in what had to be an honest mistake. Bledsoe, asked about Rozier, said, “who?” and added, “I don’t even know who the (expletive) that is.”

He’s lying.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens, asked about those comments, said, “I heard that. Our team’s just focused on Game 3.””

“I ain’t got no bad blood with nobody,” Rozier said before Boston’s practice Thursday. “Everybody out here to play basketball. Ain’t nobody no boxers or none of that stuff. I’m not really worried about all that. I’m not caught up in that. I’m worried about Celtics and Bucks, how can I help my team get past the first round?”

As far as the Drew Bledsoe comment, Rozier smiled and said, “I made a huge mistake. But it is what it is now. I don’t care.”

Impressive defense

The expansion Golden Knights and the Sharks both swept their first round NHL series and will now meet in the second round. The Knights’ Marc-Andre Fleury yielded three goals in four games against the Kings and Martin Jones four in four games against the Ducks. Fleury, whose team scored only seven, had a .977 save percentage and Jones .970 as the Sharks cruised.

The Knights joined the 1914 Boston Braves and 1970 Pittsburgh Penguins as the only teams in the history of the four North American sports to sweep their first playoff series.

In the category of “extra time,” Mike Milbury thinks the NHL should go to fewer players on the ice after games go past the first overtime because of the fatigue factor … and while baseball deals with what to do about extra innings, there have already been six April games to go at least 14 innings (two on Wednesday alone), compared to one last April.

Finally, our thoughts go out to Marcus Smart, who, according to Jay King of the Athletic, learned his mother is battling cancer, and to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, whose wife passed away Wednesday.

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com.


Sports columns Patriots/NFL Red Sox/MLB Celtics/NBA Bruins/NHL


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